NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - The animal control service of New Port Richey is down to its final days and the center is desperately trying to find forever homes for its remaining animals.
That's because Pasco County's animal control won't accept them, meaning 14 cats and more than 30 dogs remain in kennels while volunteers prepare them for an adoption drive this weekend.
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"The whole thing is very sad," said Dawn Partlow, who adopted two dogs from the center. "They're doing a great job. That's why we wanted to make sure at least we could give one more a home."
New Port Richey city council voted to dissolve the facility and turn over the animal control service Pasco County. The deadline is Dec. 31.
The center has a troubled past. Internal strife led to public complaints about the center's director, Sharon Reynolds, even though those complaints were determined to be unfounded.
"Animal rescue can be extremely emotional," Reynolds said. "When it's emotions it sometimes gets out of hand. Things are said and drama occurs," said Reynolds.
A disease outbreak led to a rift between the city and the SPCA, after both had agreed to share a facility in New Port Richey.
Reynolds said the center had found homes for nearly 200 animals last year, and was proud of its accomplishments as a smaller, more personable animal control service.
"Because at most animal controls, when an animal comes in sick, it either sends it out to a rescue or it euthanizes," Reynolds said. "We didn't do that. We actually cared for the animals themselves."
Because of the facility's remote location in Land O' Lakes and the ongoing internal issues, many volunteers had left the organization. Reynolds said the long hours were affecting her health.
"It's very personal," Reynolds said. "I wake up and I go to sleep doing this. But it's been worth every minute just knowing we could save as many as we have."
Still, Reynolds found it difficult to think about the new year, when the center will be closed.
"I don't want to think about it," she said.
The adoption drive takes place from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21, and Sunday, Dec. 22 at the animal control facility located at 10125 Land O'Lakes Blvd. in Land O'Lakes.
You can reach them by phone: (727) 342-2237